Israel 2009: Quasi-final

Still from’s site, which seems to be the only seat with a good election coverage including percentages (the Knesset took down their Hebrew elections site that had full results in more detail!). With 100% reporting, but without the IDF and diplomatic votes, here are the results. The only change since the last update is one UAL seat was taken off their count and given to UTJ. UAL also fell from 5% to 4%, and Kadima went from 22% to 23%. On a side note, neither Gil and Meimad have actually broken 1% (though they get rounded up to 1%). Meimad-Green Movement took about 0.8%. I believe Gil took around 0.6% or 0.5%. The Green Party epic failed and won barely 0.1%, much less than in 2006, when they were quite close to the 2% threshold.

Kadima 23%: 28 seats (-1)
Likud 21%: 27 (+15)
Yisrael Beitenu 12%: 15 (+4)
Labor 10%: 13 (-6)
Shas 9%: 11 (-1)
United Torah Judaism 4%: 5 (-1)
United Arab List-Ta’al 4%: 4 (±0)
NU 3%: 4 (-5)*
Hadash 3%: 4 (+1)
Meretz-Yachad 3%: 3 (-2)
Jewish Home 3%: 3 (+3)
Balad 3%: 3 (±0)

The surprise of last night was Kadima’s close first place over Likud, which led all the last polls before election day. Obviously, there was a lot of left-wing voters (from Labor and Meretz) who voted Kadima to vote against Likud and prevent Netanyahu from getting first place. That is one reason for Meretz’ surprisingly dismal showing last night. Israeli observers have also claimed that Kadima’s superior organization and GOTV played a part. Labor, which not too long ago was a dominant party in Israeli politics, has suffered its worst electoral defeat ever, with a dismal 10% and 13 seats. Yisrael Beitenu has done well, but not as well as polls indicated, so their victory isn’t a great victory after all. However, they’re now kingmakers. Meretz, which was expected to do better than in 2006, has performed surprisingly poorly. A part of it probably comes from Meretz voters switching over to Kadima at the last minute, as a strategic vote against Netanyahu. Another part may come from die-hard peace voters who resented Meretz’ support of the Lebanon war in 2006 and the recent Gaza invasion, which they see as repudiating Meretz’ peace-foundations. Some of these voters probably switched to Hadash, the bi-communal communist party, which improved on its 2006 showing. The religious parties have remained around at the same levels, losing only minimal ground. Despite talks of an all-time low in Arab turnout, the “Arab parties” have actually won 11 seats (10 in the last Knesset). They seem to have won around 10%, and they’re estimated to be anywhere from 11% to 15% of the voter pool. The Bedouin vote has remained loyal to the UAL by a huge margin, as expected. Hadash is the party of urban Arabs (see the results in Nazareth and Umm-al-Fahm).

Haaretz’ website also has results by city and “sector”, which is quite fascinating. Here are a few cities, major and/or interesting.

  • Ariel (settlement deep in the West Bank): Likud 45%, Yisrael Beitenu 31%, Kadima 10%, NU 5%, Shas 3%
  • Ashkelon (near Gaza): Likud 31%, Yisrael Beitenu 27%, Kadima 16%, Shas 11%, Labor 6%, NU 3%
  • Be’er Sheva (largest city in the south): Likud 28%, Yisrael Beitenu 25%, Kadima 20%, Labor 7%, NU 3%
  • Eilat: Kadima 35%, Likud 25%, Yisrael Beitenu 15%, Labor 8%, Shas 7%
  • Haifa (largest city in the north): Kadima 28%, Likud 20%, Yisrael Beitenu 16%, Labor 13%, Hadash 4%
  • Jerusalem: Likud 24%, UTJ 19%, Shas 15%, Kadima 11%, NU 7%, Yisrael Beitenu 6%, Labor 6%
  • Ma’aleh Adumim (largest West Bank settlement): Likud 45%, Yisrael Beitenu 15%, Kadima 13%, NU 9%, Jewish Home 5%
  • Nahariya (10km from Lebanon): Likud 27%, Kadima 26%, Yisrael Beitenu 22%, Labor 9%, Shas 7%
  • Nazareth (69% Muslim 31% Christian): Hadash 52%, Balad 23%, UAL 27%
  • Sderot (on Gaza border): Likud 33%, Yisrael Beitenu 23%, Shas 13%, Kadima 12%, NU 7%, Labor 5%
  • Tel-Aviv (Israel’s largest city): Kadima 34%, Likud 19%, Labor 15%, Meretz 8%, Yisrael Beitenu 6%, Shas 6%
  • Umm-al-Fahm (100% Arab): Hadash 54%, Balad 24%, UAL 19%, Meimad-Green 2

Now, a few interesting “sectors”

  • Kibbutzim (traditional Labor stronghold): Labor 31%, Kadima 31%, Meretz 18%, Likud 6%
  • Negev Bedouins: UAL 80%, Balad 5%, Hadash 2%
  • Jewish Towns (50k to 100k): Kadima 28%, Likud 25%, Yisrael Beitenu 12%, Labor 11%, Shas 8%
  • Jewish Towns (100k to 200k): Likud 25%, Kadima 23%, Yisrael Beitenu 15%, Shas 11%, Labor 8%, UTJ 7%

Now the game of coalition building begins. Labor has already sort-of indicated that it will probably return to the opposition benches to rebuild. The people that say that Netanyahu has a significant advantage in the coalition game are wrong. Even though they like to group all the righties and far-righties together and give them a majority, there’s a big problem. The ultra-Orthodox Shas have rejected working with the strongly secular Yisrael Beitenu, and they would probably be hurt electorally if they ended up in a coalition with them. UTJ and the other small Orthodox parties would also suffer if they worked with a strongly secular party like Yisrael Beitenu. Avigdor Lieberman (YB’s leader) is being actively courted by Livni and Netanyahu, and he seems to be open to both of them for now. A coalition that is becoming more likely is a grand coalition, Kadima-Likud-[Labor or Yisrael Beitenu] in which Livni would be Prime Minister but Netanyahu would have a very important post and would probably be in a position to influence Palestinian policy. It will be interesting to see how this all ends up.

Maps perhaps a bit later, when the Knesset website comes back in a few days hopefully.

Posted on February 12, 2009, in Israel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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